, Volume 60, Issue 10, pp 1941–1950 | Cite as

Alcohol drinking patterns and risk of diabetes: a cohort study of 70,551 men and women from the general Danish population

  • Charlotte Holst
  • Ulrik Becker
  • Marit E. Jørgensen
  • Morten Grønbæk
  • Janne S. Tolstrup



Alcohol consumption is inversely associated with diabetes, but little is known about the role of drinking patterns. We examined the association between alcohol drinking patterns and diabetes risk in men and women from the general Danish population.


This cohort study was based on data from the Danish Health Examination Survey 2007–2008. Of the 76,484 survey participants, 28,704 men and 41,847 women were eligible for this study. Participants were followed for a median of 4.9 years. Self-reported questionnaires were used to obtain information on alcohol drinking patterns, i.e. frequency of alcohol drinking, frequency of binge drinking, and consumption of wine, beer and spirits, from which we calculated beverage-specific and overall average weekly alcohol intake. Information on incident cases of diabetes was obtained from the Danish National Diabetes Register. Cox proportional hazards model was applied to estimate HRs and 95% CIs.


During follow-up, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes. The lowest risk of diabetes was observed at 14 drinks/week in men (HR 0.57 [95% CI 0.47, 0.70]) and at 9 drinks/week in women (HR 0.42 [95% CI 0.35, 0.51]), relative to no alcohol intake. Compared with current alcohol consumers consuming <1 day/week, consumption of alcohol on 3–4 days weekly was associated with significantly lower risk for diabetes in men (HR 0.73 [95% CI 0.59, 0.94]) and women (HR 0.68 [95% CI 0.53, 0.88]) after adjusting for confounders and average weekly alcohol amount.


Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over 3–4 days per week is associated with the lowest risk of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account.


Alcohol Alcohol consumption Alcohol drinking patterns Basic science Diabetes Drinking patterns Epidemiology Human Risk Type 2 diabetes mellitus 



Danish Health Examination Survey



We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of all study participants of the Danish National Health Examination Study.

Data availability

In accordance with the Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data and the requirement for informed consent from the participants, study data cannot be made available in a public repository and cannot be obtained upon request.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. The collection of data to DANHES was funded by the Ministry of the Interior and Health and the Tryg Foundation.

Duality of interest

The authors declare that there is no duality of interest associated with this manuscript.

Contribution statement

CH contributed to the study design, the analysis and interpretation of the data, critical review and revision of the manuscript and drafted the original manuscript. UB contributed to the study design, the interpretation of the data, critical review and revision of the manuscript. MEJ contributed to the interpretation of the data and critical review and revision of the manuscript. MG contributed to the collection of data, study design, interpretation of the data and critical review and revision of the manuscript. JST contributed to the study design, the analysis and interpretation of the data and critical review and revision of the manuscript. JST is the guarantor of this work and had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. All authors approved the final manuscript.

Supplementary material

125_2017_4359_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (182 kb)
ESM Tables (PDF 182 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlotte Holst
    • 1
  • Ulrik Becker
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marit E. Jørgensen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Morten Grønbæk
    • 1
  • Janne S. Tolstrup
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern DenmarkCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Gastro Unit, Medical DivisionCopenhagen University Hospital HvidovreHvidovreDenmark
  3. 3.Clinical EpidemiologySteno Diabetes CenterGentofteDenmark

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